Aug 22, 2023 - Economy & Business

Wage demands hit record high: Average job seeker wants at least $78k

Data: Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. workers on the job hunt currently harbor record-high wage expectations, with men expecting significantly more money from job offers than women, according to a new Federal Reserve Bank of New York survey.

Why it matters: The ultra-tight labor market during the pandemic was a boon for wages and worker power. While the gradual loosening of the labor market threatens to erode some of those gains, the survey results indicate workers are feeling confident about asking potential new employers for more money.

By the numbers: The average reservation wage of U.S. jobs seekers — the lowest annual pay workers would accept for a new job — climbed to a record high of $78,645 in July, up from $72,873 at the same time last year, according to the survey.

  • Yet the average full-time wage offer received in the past four months was $69,475, itself a marked increase from $60,764 last July.
  • According to the survey, the average annual wage for full-time workers in July was more than $79,000, compared to nearly $76,000 in July 2022.

Between the lines: Yet a closer look at the data reveals stark gender and education divides.

  • Respondents with a college degree had a reservation wage of about $98,600, compared to an average of $63,300 for those without.
  • Moreover, male respondents reported a reservation wage of about $91,000 compared to the $66,000 expected by women.

The big picture: The survey results illustrate that while the labor market is still solid, some of the features that defined it last year — like rapid job switching — are fading, Axios' Courtenay Brown writes.

  • The share of respondents who reported looking for a job in July fell to 19%, down from the 25% who reported the same last July.
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